Friday, 27 August 2010

Online presence

One point to come out of the last tutor meeting was that most photographers have some sort of online presence. It would help my project to have a web address that visitors to the exhibition can visit to view the work in their own time.

Thanks to staff on the programme, a server has been set up in conjunction with Slideshow Pro Director to store and recall images as required. I've implemented a basic Flash slideshow to access the images once a piece of software called 'cyberduck' receives the relevant .swf file and .html file

I did something similar for the second project but this version is cleaner, smoother and has more impact. One reason it works better is because the images uploaded are not terribly large files meaning that they load quickly on a variety of browsers. Some quality is sacrificed but not a lot.

My workflow for those interested was;

1. Export PSD files as small-ish JPEGS to be suitable for web delivery
2. Upload images to server (
3. Switch on the required images in Slideshow Pro Director
4. Create slideshow container in Flash, make cosmetic changes.
5. Publish the .html file (index.html) and .swf (aaron francis.swf) to a folder with the .fla file.
6. Drag and drop the .html and .swf files into a cyberduck connection pointing to

It has been a little complicated to get it working this morning but i'm pleased i've managed it. The image below shows how jumbled my workspace had become in the lead up to getting it functioning;

Jumbled workspace prior to success.

Just incase i've published the required files to the wrong folder, not entered a valid name or if the server explodes, the screenshot below shows the online slideshow working;

If everything continues to function correctly, all the images used for the book can be viewed online here;

For my own notes, the stage i've used that works is 1024 x 768. I'm now experimenting with 1344 x 840. Not sure it will work on most displays though.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


I figured it might be helpful to promote my part of the exhibition with flyers. The designs i've come up with are basic and to the point, but use an image that is part of the exhibition. I've downloaded and worked to's PS flyer template meaning they should print well. As yet I don't have an opening time for the exhibition but it will be essential to add this to the information side of the flyer when I have it. Below are the designs i'd like to use;

Back of flyer with info

Possible front 1

Possible front 2

Test order placed

This morning i've placed an order for one of my finished books. I've only ordered one initially as i'm worried some colours may not be reproduced as desired. If the book isn't what I expect i'll have time before the exhibition to change things around, sort the colours out etc and reorder.

Another point to note is that I contacted my brother (the subject of the work) late last week. As i'd written the introduction/closing section about him, it was only fair that he read through it and rubber stamp what i'd said about him. The sections detail his personal struggles so I was expecting to have the pieces heavily censored and in need of re-writing. When I spoke to Matt last night I was really pleased that not only was he fine with what i'd written, he genuinely liked it and thought it was good.

I take great heart that he was positive about the written pieces as it isn't everyday parts of his life are there to see, printed in black and white. Basically i'd tried to be to the point and non-judgemental, in the spirit of a documentary photography piece.

The written pieces are too long to cut and paste on here so you'll either have to come to the exhibition to read them, or buy a copy of the finalised book! More images that made the final book are given below. The images have been edited in accordance to what has been displayed on a colour calibrated screen, if they are viewed on different screens i'm not sure how they'll appear. You'll have to trust that the colour is accurate.

A starfish sits on a ceramic-drawered chest purchased by mum from Barcelona. Once used to save her spare change

Sunlight streams over jewellery once worn by mum. Matthew has made a start in organising the pieces

Cream leather sofa donated by a friend's mother. Matthew reads in preparation for a foundation science course here

Matthew's calculator and organiser lie used ontop of a pile of books and papers. One about early inventions is visible

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Further colour management and gamut comment

So, after double-soft-proofing my images using Blurb's ICC profile (for the printer my images should be printed on), I feel that the colour is being washed out more than i'd like. To resolve this i've been working with a copy of the original PS file next to the original. The copy has soft-proof turned on, this then allows me to try and match up the colours with the original accordingly. Thankfully, the differences are not too drastic and generally only requires the contrast boosting up.

I am a little concerned that some images display areas of colour that are out of gamut (tones that wont be represented accurately in print), but after reading through a LOT of Blurb forum discussions, this shouldn't be too detrimental. I initially tried to bring out of gamut shades back in but it affects the whole image and seems a bit invasive. The general consensus with the Blurb community is that shades that are out, actually print fine.

At worst, out of gamut colours will appear duller than what I see on screen and it really only affects areas with a large amount of green. This could prove annoying with the example below. Areas that are out of gamut are greyed in.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Colour management

Bit of a dull post but just a note regarding colour profiles/management. I'd been working in Adobe RGB during photo editing, so I needed to convert my final PSDs to sRGB ready for the JPEGS to go into Blurb's software. I also downloaded their ICC profile in order to soft-proof my images in Photoshop. Although difficult to say for certain whether the images will be ok in print, the soft-proofing gives a good guide.

My colours, contrast and brightness seem ok, and I am inclined to trust my screen as I made sure to properly calibrate it. The book should be sent to print sometime this coming week. Initially i'm only ordering one to ensure it looks fine.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Creative Commons Licensing

Another point to cross off the list for the final piece regards licensing. The license selected does not permit external commercial use of the work, or allow modifications. Primarily the license is for an online version of the piece which will be created time-permitting. It has been possible to capture the HTML as regular text for use inside the book.

Below is the HTML generated based on the Creative Commons License selected;

Creative Commons License
Matthew (Final Semester MA Project) by Aaron Francis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Book/Exhibition images

I'm wrestling with which images to include in the book and exhibition. The ones below are three of the most successful, and ones that I would like to include in both the exhibition, and supporting book. The captions offered are almost finalised but may be tweaked and reworded after a meeting next week.

I was initially reluctant to put images up here that are to be used for the finished project but I guess it is nice for people to see how the thing is coming together.

Fruit bowl in one corner of kitchen table, a favourite of Kim Francis. Shattered and glued back together by Matthew

Matthew examines the wings of locally shot bird. A friend brings him a range of wildfowl for meals.

A love of wood and carving has been present since childhood. This camel has a snapped leg but still deserves a place

Monday, 9 August 2010

Alec Soth

I was pointed in the direction of Alec's work by my project supervisor. While not all of his photography is relavent, in some pieces I can see how his use of colour saturation, contrast, a focal point, tone/mood is similar to mine.

It was noteworthy that his images are displayed on pure white as mine will be for the book. A selection of the most relevant are displayed below. They are from projects of Soth's including 'The Last Days of W' , 'NIAGARA' , 'Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (Commission)' and 'Carleton College.' All the projects have a link to mine in the way they hint at a loss, something missing or that elements of the scene are not as straightforward to read as they may initially appear.


Since my last post, i've had a tutorial with two staff supervising my final project. It was fairly productive and a decent chance to get some comments on my image capture, selection and their integration into a book. Obviously it was useful as a checkpoint to the whole semester, as I needed to put markers in my mind of what more needs to be done.

If the meeting was put through a sieve and shaken, these points would fall out of it;

* Interesting images but some stronger than others. Consider re-looking at the shoots and selecting alternate images.
* Seek out some photographs of myself, brother and mother for use in the exhibition and book.
* Scan the old photographs.
* A little repetition with images containing a mirror. Select the strongest one only.
* A pure white background to the book works well.
* Descriptive captions do not work. Rewrite them to explain a backstory (for validity and to engage the audience emotionally.)
* Use a smaller font for the book.
* Lots of blank white space focuses the audience's attention.
* Examine the work of Alec Soth (see following post)
* Consider using to create promotional cards for the exhibition piece.
* Project reflection should comment on why the use of sound was abandoned (to avoid an inadvertent comedic tone)
* Project reflection should comment on the downside to not having access to a pro level camera body for all shoots (full frame over crop factor)
* Identify exactly how many images will be framed and wall mounted. Be thinking about selection.
* Consider when I will be printing and arrange this with a technician/advisor.

The next tutorial will probably be around the 18th August. Currently i'm arranging the book layout and identifying the cost of promotional material.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Book Development

I'm aiming for around 30 images in the book to support the exhibition. At first I thought about using totally different images in the book to the ones that will feature on walls during the exhibition. I now feel that this would not be effective as the book will not always be accesible in conjunction with the framed prints. In essence, the photo book needs to be able to stand alone and feature the strongest images e.g the ones selected for framing.

I've toyed with captions in different places of the book but what works best seems to be a simple, clean and descriptive feel. A clinical, descriptive design supports the desire to portray the featured environment as a museum-like building, in which areas are curated over time. The image name and mundane descriptive language allow for the audience's mind to wander and conjure a sense of place, emotion and a life in their own mind. (See earlier research, mainly that of John R.J Taylor)

The opening page of the book will offer an overview to the project and the subject. This seems important as the images need foundation and background. A screenshot below hints at the feel desired for the finished book.